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PNP back in Duterte’s war on drugs

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President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Philippine National Police to resume operations against illegal drugs, Malacanang announced on Tuesday.

Presidential spokesman Secretary Harry Roque said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency would remain the lead agency in the campaign.

"The first, and I quote, is directing the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies, to resume, providing active support to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations," he said.

In October, Duterte ordered the PDEA to be the sole agency handling the drug war.

"Now, this supersedes the earlier memorandum that designated the PDEA as the sole agency that will deal with the anti-illegal drug operations... Meaning, Pdea remains the lead but the PNP will again participate in the anti-illegal drug operations," Roque said.

Also to resume active support to the PDEA are the National Bureau of Investigation, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Customs and Philippine Postal Corporation.

Roque said that the public clamor for PNP's return to the drug war and PDEA's lack of resources were among the reasons why Duterte signed the new memorandum.

While PNP is back in the drug war, Roque said that the PNP should first clear with the PDEA if it wanted to bring back its Oplan Tokhang.

He made the announcement after a joint command conference of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP.

Sought for comment, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos said, "We will follow the order of the Commander-in Chief and Chief Executive.”

Carlos said the PNP would be using body cameras in their drug operations. He said the agency would allow certain groups to join its operations.

“PNP will utilize body cameras; will put more focus in internal cleansing; allow other sectors to join/witness the ops for transparency,” he said.

Carlos said the PNP would focus on ridding its ranks of drug personalities.

Duterte in October tasked the PDEA to lead the war on drugs after police officers figured in the questionable killings of teenagers.

Thousands of killings have been blamed on Duterte and the PNP's war on drugs.

In a memorandum signed October 10, Duterte told law enforcement agencies, including the Philippine National Police as well as all ad hoc task forces, to let PDEA be the "sole agency" to conduct anti-illegal drugs campaign and operations.

"The PNP shall, at all times, maintain police visibility, as a deterrent to illegal drug activities leaving to the PDEA, however, the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations as aforestated," the memorandum read.

The President cited Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 where it said that PDEA should be the lead agency when investigations of the National Bureau of Investigation, PNP, and others found to be in violation of the said act. —with a report from Amita Legaspi/NB, GMA News

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